Are jurors persuaded by the "concreteness of truth"? : the impact of eyewitness concreteness, juror instructions, and visualization on juror decision making.

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2016-07-11

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Abstract

I investigated the impact of eyewitness use of linguistic concreteness on juror decision making. Mock jurors read a summary of an ambiguous criminal case that included a concrete or abstract version of an eyewitness’s testimony. When jurors received only these materials (Experiment 1), those who received the concrete testimony were more likely to render guilty verdicts and found the eyewitness more credible. However, concreteness had no effect when jurors received an additional document (Experiment 2), although juror instructions did induce skepticism of the eyewitness and the case in general. Neither concreteness nor juror visualization of the case directly influenced jurors’ decisions (Experiment 3), but those jurors who received the concrete testimony while visualizing perceived the eyewitness to be more accurate over time. Overall, these results do not suggest a consistent effect of concreteness on juror decision making. Future research should consider utilizing more robust methods to manipulate concreteness.

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